Writer David Mura grew up in a Chicago suburb in the middle of the last century, learning, as he says, “how to be white.”
It wasn’t until he was in his twenties that he began to explore his identity as a third-generation Japanese American. Over the years and in a dozen books, Mura has reflected on race, cultural identity, popular culture and how his family’s experience and the experiences of other non-white Americans were left out of the broad American story.
Mura’s daughter, Rep. Samantha Sencer-Mura, Minneapolis-DFL, had a very different experience growing up in multiracial Minneapolis in the 1990s with her activist writer father. And, she’s found her own way to make sure everyone’s history is included. As a newly elected state legislator, she sponsored the legislation this spring that will require Minnesota high schools to offer classes in ethnic studies.
MPR News host Angela Davis talks with David Mura and Samantha Sencer-Mura about race, culture and storytelling.
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The conversation is part of the Power Pair series featuring prominent Minnesotans in a close relationship. Maybe they're siblings, a married couple or best friends. You may know of them separately but they reveal a whole new side of themselves when Angela Davis sits them down together. Listen to past interviews and suggest your own future Power Pair duo here.
David Mura is a writer and has taught creative writing and literature at the University of Minnesota, St. Olaf College and elsewhere. He’s published two memoirs, a novel, several books of poetry and several books of essays including, “The Stories Whiteness Tells Itself: Racial Myths and Our American Narratives.”
Samantha Sencer-Mura lives in south Minneapolis and last year became the first Japanese American elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives. She was previously executive director at 826 MSP, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center in the Twin Cities focused on students of color.
Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.